The only way to travel.


When Margaret Edythe Young married Anthony Lewis Bettencourt in Galveston in 1912 they honeymooned in San Antonio. They had an afternoon wedding, a brief reception at the home of the father of the bride [the groom’s family lived across the street] and left on the evening train. They had to change trains in Houston where they would have boarded the Sunset Limited and would have arrived in San Antonio about 24 hours after they left Galveston – forget about doing it by automobile, even if they had one, the trip would have taken the best part of three days for what we now do in three hours.

The reason for recounting this event is to provide a travel benchmark when contemplating that their youngest great-grandson just made the journey by air from Houston to Capetown, South Africa in less time than it took them to go from Galveston to San Antonio. Although most people born in the United States between the Civil War and the First World War were born, lived and died within a 50 mile radius of their place of birth Galveston was an international city and for many travel was a business necessity, for others it was a leisure activity and for the sons and daughters of the prosperous it was the completion of an education.

Travel – especially over long distances – was not accomplished by means of suspended animation in an aluminum tube hurtling through the atmosphere. That can no more be called travel than sedated dentistry can be considered a character building exercise. Going someplace as close as Mexico or as far away as Moscow would have involved trains and ships and carts and conveyances beyond the modern imagination where, if you missed a connection you might have to wait several days – or weeks – for the next, or you might have to improvise with the aforementioned conveyances. If you were a young man you would have at least one travelling companion. If you were a young lady there would be a chaperone. Most likely you would be going either with your family or a larger group and although you would see and smell and taste things that few airline passengers experience your society would be fairly well circumscribed. You would be in an iron hull rather than an aluminum tube and there would be nothing suspended in the animation.

Since Galveston was a port city Margaret Edythe Young’s European travels would have been accomplished by water. There was train service from Galveston to New York but it was primarily used for interior destinations and commercial travel. Her father would quite often make the trip stopping in New Orleans, Memphis, St. Louis and Knoxville – the old cotton capitals – lining up business – as well as going north to Chicago or west to California but the rails were too strenuous for the delicate constitutions of ladies and besides they were full of immigrants reaching the terminus of their emigration.

In a card dated the 28th of September 1904 a friend looks forward to Edythe’s arrival with her brother Johnny and his wife Maude. Her friend Helen notes that her party was all sea sick on the previous Saturday which is certainly one of the perils of crossing the Atlantic on a vessel of 7,500 gross tons.

It was possible to go directly from Galveston to Europe and one of the principal services was the North German Lloyd line that operated out of Bremen both before and after the First World War. This line was serviced by John Young’s firm in Galveston and the contacts between the two companies were especially close and he made a number of trips with the line. Most of the Jewish immigrants coming to Texas arrived at Galveston on board these ships and it was not uncommon for Rabbi Henry Cohen to go the ship at the quarantine station and perform marriages of convenience since it was easier to land as a married couple than as a single man or woman. After the First World War John Young and Rabbi Cohen were among those who lobbied to restore the service to Galveston in the 1920’s and many were saved from the Holocaust thanks to their efforts.

Another view of the North German Lloyd steamer CASSEL with a note dated the 20th of July 1906 reporting a lovely and that her friend is going to get to leave the “brat” which probably means that a younger sibling is going to be parked somewhere while they enjoy their grand tour.

The CASSEL was built for North German Lloyd in 1901 by J.C.Tecklenborg, Geestemunde. She was a 7,543 gross ton ship, length 428.9ft x beam 54.3ft, one funnel, two masts, twin screw and a speed of 13 knots. There was accommodation for 140-2nd and 1,938-3rd class passengers. Launched on the 31st of July 1901, she sailed from Bremen on her maiden voyage to New York on the 26th of October 1901.  On the 26th of June 1902 she commenced her first Bremen – Baltimore voyage and on 17th of November 1910 started her first Bremen – Philadelphia – Galveston voyage. She commenced the first of 3 voyages from Bremen to Capetown and Australia on 7th of October 1911 and her first Bremen – Boston voyage on the 8th of October 1913. On the 14th of May 1914 she started her first voyage from Bremen to New York, Philadelphia and Galveston and in August of that year was laid up in Germany to keep her from falling into british hands. In 1919 she went to the French company Messageries Maritimes as part of war reparations and was renamed MARECHAL GALLIENI and in 1926 was scrapped at La Seyne. If you examine the cards closely you have both a port and starboard view of the ship and you may notice that she has a total of ten lifeboats. If each lifeboat can hold 50 people then apparently the crew and second class passengers are in good shape but a large percentage of the third class passengers had better know how to swim!

When John Young came to America on the clipper ship Columbia – which had auxiliary steam power – it probably took two to three weeks to make the voyage under conditions in steerage that gave truth to the old saying that being on a ship was like being in prison – except there was a chance you might drown. As bad a things might be in steerage there really wasn’t such a thing as leisure travel and what passed for first class would have typically been a cabin – literally – built onto the main deck with the principal advantage being access to fresh air and sunlight and the possibility, weather permitting, of a limited amount of time out of the cabin walking around the deck.

The increases throughout the 19th century in speed and size of vessels meant that economies could be realized and the waves of immigrants meant that people could be carried – with a modicum of humanity – until finally the advent of commercial and leisure travellers meant that not only was comfort possible it was positively desirable and lines like Cunard began catering to the trade.  An intermediate stage in route to the luxury liners that would make Cunard’s name in the 20th century were ships like the Alaundia of 13,405 gross tons, length 520.3ft x beam 64 ft, two funnels, two masts, twin screw, speed 15 knots, accommodation for 520-2nd and 1,540-3rd class passengers. Launched on the 9th of June 1913 by Scott’s Shipbuilding & Engineering Co, Greenock for the Cunard Steamship Co, her maiden voyage started on the 27th of November 1913 from Liverpool for Queenstown, Portland and Boston (4 round voyages). Then from the 9th of April 1914 first voyage (London for cargo) – Southampton – Portland, from the 14th of May 1914 first voyage (London) – Southampton – Quebec – Montreal,  from the 10 th of  May 1916 first voyage London – New York and finally on the 19th of  September 1916 her last voyage London – New York when on the 19th of October 1916 she struck a mine and sank off Royal Sovereign lightship, Sussex with the loss of two lives.

Even though this is the centenary of the launching and loss of the TITANIC we are going to ignore that ship since it has no place in our narrative but there are two sister ships that do figure in because the Young family travelled on both of them. The LUSITANIA was built in 1906 by John Brown & Co, Glasgow for the Cunard Steamship Co Ltd. She was a 31,550 gross ton ship, length 762.2ft x beam 87.8ft, four funnels, two masts, four screws and a speed of 25 knots. There was passenger accommodation for 563 – 1st, 464-2nd and 1,138-3rd class. Launched on 7th of June 1906, she sailed from Liverpool on her maiden voyage to Queenstown (Cobh) and New York on the 7th of September 1907. She broke both the eastbound and westbound records for the fastest passage, her fastest being 4 days 16 hours 40 mins from Queenstown to Ambrose in August 1909. Her last Liverpool – New York voyage started on the 17th of April 1915, She sailed from New York on the 1st of May and was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U.20, while carrying war contraband, on the 7th of May near the Old Head of Kinsale, Ireland with the loss of 1,198 lives. When she made her grand tour of Europe Margaret Edythe Young travelled to New York on a Mallory Line steamer and then went first class to Liverpool on the LUSITANIA. It would have been the trip of a lifetime and there will be further posts that illustrate her progress through a Europe yet to be ravaged by a world war. It is ironical that the postcards with the picture of both the Alaundia and the Lusitania were both printed in Germany – before the war.

The Cunard line’s Mauratenia in New York Harbor [see the Statue of Liberty at far left] interestingly the excursion vessel pictured on the right is the Columbia which was built on the hull of the USS Santiago de Cuba which had sunk the CSS Victory during the War for Southern Independence.

The MAURETANIA was built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Wallsend-on-Tyne (engines by Wallsend Slipway Co) in 1906 for the Cunard Line. She was a 31,938 gross ton ship, overall length 790 ft x beam 88 ft, four funnels, two masts, four screws and a service speed of 25 knots. There was accommodation for 563 – 1st, 464-2nd and 1,138-3rd class passengers. Launched on the 20th of  September 1906, she left Liverpool on her maiden voyage to Queenstown (Cobh) and New York on the 16th of November 1907. Between 1907 and 1924 she broke several transatlantic records, her shortest crossing being 4 days, 10 hrs, 51 mins from Queenstown to Ambrose Light in September 1909 at a speed of 26.06 knots. She started her last pre-war Liverpool – New York voyage on the 10th of  October 1914 and was converted to a troop ship, hospital ship and then back to a troop ship between 1915 and 1919. She made her first Liverpool – New York voyage after the Armistice on the 25th of November 1918 (still as a troop ship) and after being refitted as a passenger liner, she commenced Southampton – Halifax – New York voyages on the 28th of  June 1919. Damaged by fire at Southampton on the 25th of July 1921, she was rebuilt to 30,696 tons, converted from coal to oil fuel, and refitted to carry 589 – 1st, 400 – 2nd and 767 – 3rd class passengers. She resumed Southampton – Cherbourg – New York sailings on the 25th of March 1922 and in April 1931 was refitted to carry 1st, tourist and 3rd class passengers. She commenced her last Southampton – Cherbourg – New York voyage on 30th June 1934 and then carried out five cruises from New York. Her last New York – Southampton crossing started on 26th of September 1934, and on the 1st of July 1935 she left Southampton for Rosyth, where she was scrapped. She was the ship on which John W. Young went to France to fight in World War One and the ship on which he returned from war. She was also a great favorite with Galvestonians making the crossing between the wars.

We have one last ship to include in this entry, the DICK LYKES of 8,335 gross tons, built by North Carolina Shipbuilding Corp., Wilmington, N.C. as a  Standard ship type C2-S-AJ1 built for United States Maritime Commission and launched on the 20th of August 1945. The C2 types were designed by the United States Maritime Commission in 1937-38 They were all-purpose cargo ships with 5 holds. 173 were built between 1940 and 1945. The first C2’s were 459 feet long, 63 feet broad, 40 feet depth, 25 foot draft. Speed 15.5 knots. These were the cargo ships built originally to support lend-lease by which we supplied the british and russians with the materiel of war to fight the germans and later supplied our own troops as they fought in Europe and the Pacific and on through the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.  In between wars Margaret Edythe Young’s grandson made a winter north Atlantic crossing on this vessel coming from Ireland to the United States of America.  In March of 1970 she was scrapped at Kaohsiung.

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